Day 123: A Little Smoke Goes A Long Way
Saturday, July 21, 2018 7:52 pm
Location: Campsite 1586.1 (1586.1 miles)

I was pretty efficient this morning, and despite sleeping in until almost 5:30, managed to start hiking by 6:15. The day started out nice, with a light breeze blowing, and the morning felt slightly cooler than it had been in recent days.

The trail started off with the remainder of the uphill I started yesterday, though it wasn’t quite as steep as it was up to the campsite.

Big Marshy Lake
Big Marshy Lake

Thanks to the light breeze that continued to blow, I was actually starting to feel cold in the shade when I took a break. I took that as a cue that my break had gone on long enough and that it was time to get hiking again.

At my second break, 15 miles into the day and just after noon, I talked with another hiker who suggested that the haze I’ve been seeing is smoke from the fires to the north.

View north, towards Callahan and Etna, both of which are obscured by smoke.

The good news is that the Klamathon fire, which was closing a section of trail in Oregon, has been contained and the trail closure lifted. The bad news is that there’s a new fire, the Hendrix Fire, that is closing a section of trail in Oregon, between Seiad Valley and Ashland. But, there is a reroute using forest roads, so it might not require skipping ahead. In any case, there’s nothing I can do about it now; I can worry about it and make plans once I get to Etna.

Continuing on, the trail headed downhill, to the South Fork Scott River. Water prospects for the rest of the day past that “river” seemed a bit dicey, unless I wanted to commit to going another 12.6 miles to water and then another mile and a half past that to a campsite. Already a bit tired and not really wanting to do a 28 mile day anymore, I refilled my water bottles at the river, getting enough water to cook dinner. I was hoping to be able to do dinner at the river, but there wasn’t really a good place to set up my stove and cook. So I carried the water out, heading two miles uphill to cook dinner at a campsite next to a dirt road. It was a bit of a slog carrying an extra two liters of water up that far, but it was necessary.

Over the last few days, the dust levels on the trail have died down a bit, and my feet (while dirty) hadn’t picked up anywhere near as much dirt as they had in the section just north of South Lake Tahoe. Today, though, it was as dusty as ever.

Jackson Lake
Jackson LakeView east. Mount Shasta is hidden behind the smoke.

At 6:45, after another five miles, I stopped at a campsite just outside of the Klamath National Forest’s Russian Wilderness. That brought the day to 24.5 miles. Though this was a little early to stop given I’d already eaten dinner, I was pretty tired. Though of comparable length to yesterday, today had more than double the uphill (and far steeper uphill, too), and I did it in roughly the same amount of time as I hiked yesterday, ignoring the time spent at the trail magic. So it would seem I pushed a lot harder today. I was hoping to get further, so as to have a shorter day tomorrow into Etna, but the road to Etna is now only 13.6 miles ahead, so it should be reasonable to be at the road by noon if I get started around 6, as I have been the last few days.